Germany halts Nord Stream 2, Russia’s main natural gas pipeline

Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Tuesday that Germany would halt certification of the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline that would connect his country with Russia, one of the strongest moves yet by the West to punish the Kremlin for recognizing two breakaway regions in Ukraine.

The German leader’s announcement came hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered armed forces to be sent to the breakaway regions, the so-called People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Germany’s allies in Europe and the United States have been lobbying Mr. Schulz for weeks to publicly announce that the $11 billion pipeline, which was Completed late last year Stretching from the Russian coast to northern Germany under the Baltic Sea, it would be at risk of blockage in the event of a Russian move against Ukraine.

“The situation today is fundamentally different,” Mr. Schulz told reporters in Berlin. That is why we must re-evaluate this situation in light of recent developments. By the way, that includes Nord Stream 2. “

The Ukrainian government welcomed Germany’s decision. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called her “A morally, politically and practically correct step under the current circumstances.”

Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry S. Peskov, Russia regrets the decision “because we reiterate that this project has nothing to do with politics. It should not be. This is a purely economic business project that, in addition to mutual benefit, is supposed to be a stabilizing factor for the European gas market.”

Since November, the amount of natural gas arriving in Germany from Russia has declined, driving up prices and depleting reserves, All of Europe is in an energy crisis. The pipeline, owned by a subsidiary of Russia’s state-controlled energy giant Gazprom, is filled with natural gas but has not been commissioned, pending approval by a German regulator.

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The pipeline was approved by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government before she left office, the last step before the project is transferred to the regulator, which said the project could be approved as early as the middle of the year.

But Tuesday’s announcement rescinds the previous government’s approval, and the project will now be reconsidered under Mr Schulz’s Ministry of Economy, which is led by a member of the environmental Green Party. Since taking office, both Mr. Schultz and his minister have emphasized the importance of diversification Energy sources in Germany away from the heavy dependence on Russian natural gas.

Last year, Russian gas accounted for nearly 27 percent of energy consumed in Germany, according to government figures, an increase that was expected to continue after the country shut down its last three nuclear power plants, scheduled in December, and is working to phase out the coal. Burning power stations by 2030.

Two-thirds of the gas that Germany burned last year came from Russia.

Oleg Matsnev Contribute to the preparation of reports.

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